Wellness Wednesday: Why Swimmers Should Listen to Music; A Look at Four Benefits

Underwater headphones

As a sport in which athletes have to have their heads in the water basically at all times, swimming does not often allow music to be heard constantly. However, the monotonous action of swimming laps back and forth in the pool does not have to be, and should not be, so silent. With that being said, putting on your favorite tunes while swimming can bring you a long way.

Motivation and Focus

Music has the power to motivate and energize. We’ve all have been at a point during a practice where we think our bodies just can’t take it anymore. Listening to upbeat and rhythmic tunes can help swimmers maintain a positive mindset and stay focused during long sets. As swimmers, we all know that practices can be physically demanding and mentally challenging. Music can serve as a distraction from fatigue and help swimmers push through tough moments and maintain endurance.

Performance

Music can enhance physical performance by synchronizing movement to the beat. Swimmers may find that they maintain a more consistent and efficient stroke rate when swimming to music, potentially improving overall performance. Additionally, swimmers can also use music to establish a good pace and timing during practice. A well-crafted playlist with a consistent tempo can help swimmers regulate stroke, increase power output, and maintain a steady pace.

Mood

Music has the ability to influence mood and emotions. Listening to your favorite tunes that elicit positive emotions can contribute to a more enjoyable time swimming. Music can also have a calming effect, helping swimmers manage anxiety and stress associated with competition or challenging practices. It can also serve as a way to mentally prepare for races. While some swimmers do not prefer to listen to music before a race, many listen to music in order to “hype themselves up.” In addition to increasing confidence and concentration, listening to hype or upbeat music affects the amygdala which is the part of your brain that processes emotions and releases adrenaline; music can stimulate parts of the brain to heighten skills and memory.

Music in the Swimming World Today

At swim meets today, it is not uncommon for music to be played during warmups or before the meet starts. It has also grown more common for meet hosts to play music during the longer events such as the mile in order to keep the spectators’ and swimmers’ energy high throughout the duration of the event.

More recently, the use of music at meets has been taken to another level. At the 2023 Women’s NCAA Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Tennessee Vols hired DJ Sterling “The Pearl” Henton to play music and hype up the fans and swimmers throughout the meet. In addition, the swimmers were able to interact directly with the DJ, sometimes hopping on the stage and dancing alongside him. The Texas/Virginia dual meet this year, in addition to incorporating superfinals into the dual meet format, also had the same DJ as well as the UVA mascot and cheerleaders present.

Music has long been utilized by swimmers to various extents. Today, in addition to being used and listened to on a personal level, music has grown to be a large factor in hyping athletes and fans up and has now added great entertainment value to the sport of swimming.

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Bill Price
Bill Price
2 months ago

A little research would reveal a different side to this story. Sport training takes a certain cognitive engagement that listening to music would only distract from. If all you’re doing is exercising then maybe music would be beneficial, but in most swimming practices athletes have other tasks to concentrate on besides just working hard. Paying attention to the task at hand is crucial to improvement and necessary for effective deliberate practice.

Music as entertainment is a different matter. In competitions it is meant as a ‘filler’ or distraction to keep those not directly involved in the activity mildly entertained, spectators for example. If it ever becomes a focus during a meet then something is not right. We’re losing the plot.

J. Hendrix
J. Hendrix
2 months ago

Research does not clearly state that music inhibits the capacity of each individual to pay attention, concentrate and learn – far from it! Music may improve focus and concentration for some people when studying, but for others, it may be distracting and have a negative impact on learning. The tempo and intensity of music may also have an effect.

Listening to music when studying or concentrating may not affect each person in the same way. The genre, volume, and tempo of the music may all play a role in whether music helps people study.

So, thank you for your interesting article – keep writing – fear not the nae sayers!

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